The Bucs and Panthers - quite a rivalry
For the past eight seasons, Tampa Bay has gone head to head with their three "local" NFC rivals, the Falcons, the Saints and the Carolina Panthers. OK so sometimes the NFL fails geography 101 with Dallas being in the East and all those years Atlanta were in the West but they are slowly starting to get the hang of it.
And since 2002, twice a year, the Bucs and Panthers have gone head to head with a pretty intense rivalry developing over some bad-tempered encounters.
But the first time the two teams met was back in Carolina's expansion year of 1995. They were playing in Clemson's stadium whilst their own new complex was being finished and thanks to Casey Weldon relieving Trent Dilfer in the second half, the Bucs came out on top 20-13. A Casey Weldon touchdown - now that's something the NFL didn't see very often.
After being shutout by the Panthers the following year on their way to the NFC Championship game (and thereby taking our record of the fastest expansion team to do it), the first visit by Carolina to Tampa came in 1998 when John Lynch ignited a 16-13 comeback win capped by Trent hitting Karl "The Truth" Williams inside the final two minutes for the victory.
When the regular divisional series began, the Bucs had trouble on the road winning in the immortal QB match-up of Rob "The Human Sack Machine" Johnson against Randy "I wasn't very good" Fasani. It was only when Jake Delhomme arrived in Carolina that they got all successful against the Bucs, winning five straight games in Tampa from 2003 to 2007.
And the Bucs have lost more than just games in that time. Outside of the time Chris Simms lost his spleen in 2006, the Bucs lost their dignity on Monday Night in 2008 when the Panthers rushed for about six miles against them, a game only lightened by Antonio Bryant's 200-yard receiving day in the losing cause.
And there have been flare-ups on the field with Kenyatta Walker v Julius Peppers being one memorable encounter, followed by numerous Keyshawn Johnson ones in 2002 and 2003. The latter year also saw Martin "FUAT" Gramatica's missed PAT on the final play of the game.
So all in all, quite a rivalry between the two franchises. They still haven't won a Super Bowl and they still don't have a decent quarterback. But they do have DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart as well as Nelly-lookalike Steve Smith. Shut them down and the Bucs will win on the road and go to 2-0 on the young season.
Some other random NFL thoughts
How ironic that former "Around the Horn" contributor Jay Mariotti has been suspended indefinitely from the show for an alleged spousal battery complaint in Los Angeles. Having spent the past five years ripping players left, right and centre for off-field transgressions ... the words, glass houses and stones come to mind.
How nice it was to see the three biggest mouthy show-off teams in the NFL, aka the Bengals, Jets and Cowboys, all getting beaten in Week 1. If only the Patriots could have lost too but playing Cincinnati made even that hope impossible. I give the egocentrics in Bengal land about three weeks before it all really kicks off.
Philadelphia sported their original green jerseys last weekend and looked a lot better for it too. The fans in Philly were so confused they started booing Kevin Kolb thinking he was Ron Jaworksi.
You've been great, enjoy Nick Kamen.